Mass Communication Law and Ethics

By Roy L. Moore | Go to book overview

cases can be either ex contractu (breach of contract) or ex delicto (tort). When the state (government) brings action against an individual or organization for the commission of a crime or crimes, the case is known as a criminal suit; penalties can range from a small fine to incarceration or even death for certain felonies.

However, tracking down the sources for standards of ethics is no easy task. Indeed, most of what we know about media ethics has been acquired with experience, although there are a few professional codes that provide some guidance. Unfortunately, these codes are typically so vague and general that yes or no answers are usually impossible. Perhaps this happenstance has been created more by the diversity of the mass media than by any unwillingness of journalists to come to grips with ethics. Thus, it is not surprising that, according to one study, codes apparently do not have a direct impact on journalists' decisions. 32


ENDNOTES
1.
Survey Says Too Few Understand Constitution, Lexington ( Ky.) Herald-Leader (Associated Press), February 15, 1987, at A6, col. 1.
2.
More than 1,000 people were interviewed via telephone in October and November 1986. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.2%.
3.
Unpublished poll provided to author by the center director.
4.
Majority Favor Regulating Journalists, New Poll Says, Lexington ( Ky.) Herald-Leader (Associated Press), December 15, 1996, at A6, col. 1.
5.
Id.
6.
The official name of the Supreme Court is "Supreme Court of the United States". To save space and make for easier reading, the generic name, "U.S. Supreme Court", is used throughout the textbook, but be aware that this is not the official name.
7.
Clinton v. City of New York ( 1998). [CITES NOT YET AVAILABLE]
8.
DeBenedictis, 27th Amendment Ratified, 78 A.B.A. J. 26 ( August 1992).
9.
Preemption is a U.S. Supreme Court doctrine derived from the supremacy clause of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which reads: This Constitution and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
10.
Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 2 L.Ed. 60, 5 Cranch 137 ( 1803).
11.
BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 43 ( 5th ed. 1979).
12.
An excellent resource on how to conduct legal research is Christopher G. and Jill Robinson Wren second edition of THE LEGAL RESEARCH MANUAL: A GAME PLAN FOR LEGAL RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS ( 2nd ed.) ( Madison, Wisc.: Adam & Ambrose Publishing, 1986). This very comprehensive text covers in clear detail how to gather and analyze facts, identify and organize legal issues, find the law, update the law, and even conduct computerized legal research. For information on how to use electronic databases such as LEXIS and WESTLAW, see USING COMPUTERS IN LEGAL RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO LEXIS AND WESTLAW ( 1994) by the same authors and publisher.
13.
BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY, 484-485.
14.
610 F.2d 1353.
15.
In Ross v. Bernhard, 396 U.S. 531, 90 S.Ct. 733, 24 L.Ed.2d 729 ( 1970), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a jury trial is required under the Seventh Amendment when the underlying nature of the issue at hand is one of law. Earlier ( 1959) the court ruled, in Beacon Theatres, Inc. v. Westover, 359 U.S. 500, 79 S.Ct. 948, 3 L.Ed.2d 988, that when there is a legal issue that involves both relief at law and in equity, the legal issue must be tried first with a jury before the judge can decide the equitable issue.
16.
Foundation Press ( 2nd ed. 1974).
17.
Foundation Press ( 1989).

-17-

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